Uyghur policy one of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ says expatriate Chinese doctor

Activists protest the treatment of Uyghur Muslims by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang province at a protest outside the headquarters of the European Union. (Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock)

(CNA) — A Uyghur woman who worked as a doctor in China has told a British news network that she participated in forced abortions and sterilizations at the behest of the Chinese government. 

The woman, who was not identified but was seen from behind on camera, told ITV that she was sharing her story in an effort to atone for her past. 

“The clear intention was ethnic cleansing. We were asked to believe this was part of the Communist Party’s population control plan,” she said. “At the time, I thought it was my job.” 

At least 1 million Uyghurs are believed to be interned in concentration camps in China’s Xinjiang Province. Human rights groups and international watchdogs have documented a “slow genocide” against the Uyghurs, including forced sterilizations and abortions, as well as forced organ harvesting, political indoctrination and torture.

The woman outlined the various “population control” efforts she did while working as a doctor in China. 

“In 20 years, I participated in at least five to six hundred operations, including forced contraception, forced abortion and sterilization, and forced removal of wombs,” she said, in an interview that was broadcast on September 2. The woman has since moved to Turkey, like many Uyghur refugees. 

“We’d go village to village, gather all the women, and herd them on to tractors,” she said. “Young women were fitted with contraceptive devices. Pregnant women would have to have an abortion and sterilization.” 

She added that women were implanted with a birth control device in their upper arms, saying “this is how the government persecuted the Uyghur women.” 

The doctor told ITV that babies were aborted at full term, and any who survived the attempted abortion were killed shortly after birth, either by an injection or by being disposed of in the garbage while still alive. 

“Now, I feel such regret,” she said. 

In Turkey, the doctor now works with Uyghur women, many of whom do not speak Turkish. Part of her job is to undo the birth control measures she and other doctors forced upon Uyghurs. 

The Chinese government admitted in October 2018 that “re-education camps” for members of the Uyghur population had been established. 

The government claims that the camps are to prevent the spread of terrorism among the ethnic and religious minority in the country. The majority of the Uyghur population is Muslim.

The highest estimate sets the total number of inmates in the camps at 3 million, plus approximately half a million minor children in special boarding schools for “re-education” purposes. 

Since the existence of the camps was confirmed, there have been various leaks of official documents related to the camps’ operation and the criteria for detention. Among the offenses that merit detention in the camps are the wearing of traditional religious clothing, or the celebration of Islamic holidays.

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